FACEBOOK users have been warned against the growing number of raffle scams that might leave them out of the pocket.
Most people using the social media platform will have seen posts claiming that they can win prizes by participating in competitions or sweepstakes.
Facebook has strict guidelines when it comes to organising a raffle that is promoted on the platform and there are plenty of legitimate competitions out there. Online raffles must also be licensed by the Gambling Commission to be legal.
Nonetheless, complaints about social media scam raffles have increased in recent years, according to the Gambling Commission.
Speaking to BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme – which looked into the world of Facebook raffles – Liz Hodgson, who moderates a page that raises awareness of possible scams, said: “It’s so big at the moment. Everybody’s creating their own groups.
“There are daily posts in the 10s, of people having issues with admins on these raffle groups.
“They’re not drawing them correctly; the [players] aren’t receiving their prizes.”
And vulnerable users are often the worst hit.
Maggie Hughes who has disability, while her husband suffers from dementia said she lost up to £50 after playing a tombola and not receiving her prizes.
Another member of Liz’s awareness page told the BBC that she knew of one woman who took about £400 worth of people’s money without giving out prizes.
These scams are also hitting customers with a gambling addiction, with some using their children’s money to participate in raffles, according to the investigation.
A number of scams have been doing the rounds on Facebook in recent weeks.
For example, a fake post was recently promoting two free EasyJet flights for customers to celebrate the airline’s 22nd anniversary and included an image of a boarding pass with the company’s logo.
Ryanair also issued a warning to travellers last week following a similar post that cropped up on the social media site.
Similar scams promising “anniversary vouchers” have fooled unsuspecting shoppers from Lidl, Aldi, SPAR, Tesco and Waitrose earlier this year.
Supermarket have deemed the “free coupons” as “fraudulent” and are warning customers not to share their personal details.
Kez Dancy from Coupon Mama, who last year bought £400 of Christmas presents for under a tenner, previously told The Sun how people can spot scam pages on Facebook.
She advised: “The best way to spot a fake Facebook page is to see if it is verified.
“It will have a blue or a grey tick.
“Also look at how long the page has been running, scam ones will only have a couple of photos they have uploaded purely to imitate a brand.”
How to spot Facebook contest scams
THE IDEA behind fake Facebook pages is simple: a fraudster creates a page on Facebook that sounds like it belongs to someone you'd trust – a company, well-known person, a friend.
Scammers steal logos and other graphics to make the page look like it belongs to the person or company they are imitating. They build up their followers by having fake accounts like their pages, and other tricks.
Here’s what to look out for:
Terrible grammar: If you’re used to watching out for online scam, then Facebook contest scams will have warning signs that you’re already familiar with. Bad grammar and spelling mistakes that you would never expect on a professional site? Probably means you should stay away from the offer.
Check if the page is verified: Facebook has started verifying the identities of certain pages that are likely to be fake. Pages that Facebook has verified, have a blue check mark next to their name on their profiles. You can be confident that verified pages are legitimate.
There are no terms and conditions: If a well-known brand is really offering a valuable item as a prize, then there will likely be at least some basic rules and terms associated with the competition.
You have to fill in a survey to participate: No legitimate competition or promotion is ever likely to insist that you fill in surveys and provide your personal information on a third party survey website as a condition of entry
If you click what you think is a genuine prize link and then find that you are required to participate in surveys or offers to complete your entry, you would be best to exit the site.
Use the company’s website to find legitimate facebook pages: If you want to find the legitimate Facebook page of your favorite companies, start with their websites rather than a Facebook search
Get in touch: Check the company’s page or give them a call to make sure they are running the offer, you can also get in touch with them on Twitter.